Senate Approves First Lesbian Asian-American Judge to Fed Bench

Chen Appointed to NYC Court

Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced yesterday that the Senate had approved the nomination of U.S. Attorney Pamela Ki Mai Chen to serve on the Eastern District Court of New York. Chen becomes the first Asian-American lesbian federal judge, and only the second Chinese-American female judge, in U.S. history.

Schumer recommended Chen to President Obama for the position last August due to her extensive legal background and work in civil rights. “Ms. Chen’s wealth of experience and devotion to public service make it clear that she will be an excellent judge,” Schumer said. “Ms. Chen has proven time and again that she is a leader and a pioneer in the legal field. I have every confidence that she will serve her jurisdiction well.”

Ms. Chen, 51, graduated from the University of Michigan and Georgetown Law School. She worked in the private sector before entering public service in 1991, serving for eight years in the U.S. Department of Justice as a Trial Attorney and later Senior Trial Attorney in the Civil Rights division. There, she specialized in the reform of state and local prisons, juvenile detention centers, and residential facilities for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.

Ms. Chen moved to New York in 1998 to work in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, where she now serves as Chief of the Civil Rights Section’s Criminal Division. She has specialized in the investigation and prosecution of criminal civil rights matters, including human trafficking, and hate crimes. Ms. Chen also provides training to law enforcement on human trafficking in the U.S. and abroad.

She also served as the Deputy Commissioner for Enforcement at New York State’s Division for Human Rights in 2008, where she further expander her experience in human and civil rights, and supervised division attorneys relating to discrimination in housing, employment, insurance and public benefits; and investigated and pursued administrative matters to address systemic patterns of discrimination.

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